By Lisa Golden Schroeder
Supposedly, this has been a horrible decade. The final days of the first 10 years of the 21st century are slipping away, and I’m wondering if I missed something. I guess as I look back and hear the retrospective news stories, I know that some pretty awful things did happen this decade. But some really great stuff happened too. Like I no longer feel like an old hippy because I shop at co-op groceries, buy whole grains in bulk and hang out at farmer’s markets as much as I can. The rallying cry to buy local, eat organic, shun overly processed foods and create sustainable lifestyles with lighter environmental impact is finally being heard.
So I feel like I’m in my element, with no apologies for serving brown rice, using a cloth shopping bag or digging around in my herb garden. No matter where we live, we can play a part in supporting healthier ways of raising our families and maintaining safe, strong places for regional farmers and food producers to market their goods. Because I live in the Midwest now, I think as a transplant I bond even more closely to local traditions and homegrown foods. Wild rice, hand-harvested on the edges of northern lakes; cranberries, grown in bogs just east of my home; and chicken, raised on family farms within driving distance, are favorites at my holiday table.
Embrace the specialties of where you live and celebrate them as you spend time with your loved ones. New Year’s Eve has always been a bright spot on the calendar for my family. It’s my parent’s wedding anniversary as well as a hopeful time for everyone. I’m already writing my list of resolutions, which I’m determined to keep for at least the first quarter of 2010! But in the meantime, I’m also making my shopping list for a celebration dinner that features as much local food as I can fit on a plate. Happy New Year!
MAPLE CRANBERRY GLAZED CHICKEN
Makes 4 servings
This dish is impressive and easy—and can grace both a weeknight or celebration table. Serve with a garlicky wild rice pilaf that has sautéed butternut squash and chopped winter kale stirred into it.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 package (14 ounces) Just BARE boneless skinless chicken breast fillets
½ teaspoon coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 large shallots, finely chopped
1 cup dry red wine or unsweetened pomegranate juice
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup dried cranberries or cherries
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon water
1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large nonstick over medium-high heat until hot. Season chicken with salt and pepper; place in skillet and cook three to five minutes per side or just until browned and no longer pink in center. Remove from skillet; keep warm.
2. Add remaining oil to skillet; sauté shallots for two minutes. Stir in wine, syrup, and cranberries. Cook and stir over medium-high heat for five minutes.
3. Combine cornstarch and water; stir into skillet. Cook and stir one minute or until thickened and clear. Reduce heat to medium. Add chicken back to skillet; spoon sauce over and simmer one minute.